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Flyers erase two-goal deficit, 11-game streak for Pens

by Adam Kimelman
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers trailed by two goals Saturday in the third period in Boston, but rallied to tie the game before losing in a shootout.
On Sunday, they fell behind by the same margin to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, rallied to force overtime -- and this time finished the job.
Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game with 0.9 seconds left in overtime as the Flyers beat the Penguins 3-2. The victory pulled the Flyers to within two points of the fourth-place Penguins and three of the conference-leading New York Rangers.
Danny Briere set up the winning play, carrying the puck into the Pittsburgh zone. He found Hartnell arriving late in the offensive zone, and fed him with a pass that Hartnell collected and put past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
"The overtime goal was a great pass to me," Hartnell said. "(Braydon) Coburn did a great job letting it go through his stick and I was able to get it and shoot it quick."
Claude Giroux had a pair of assists, Kimmo Timonen had a goal and an assist on his 37th birthday, and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 38 shots.
Craig Adams had a goal and an assist, Kris Letang had a pair of assists and Evgeni Malkin scored his 41st of the season as the Penguins saw their 11-game win streak end. They also missed a chance to move into first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Penguins picked up one point in the overtime loss, leaving them one point behind the Rangers in the race for the top spot in the Atlantic Division and the conference.
The way the game started, it looked for sure like the Penguins would have little problems. They led 2-0 after 40 minutes, after limiting the Flyers to just two shots in the second period. They held them without a shot for a 17:09 span from late in first until late in the second, and out-shot them 27-10 through two periods.
However, a power-play goal by Timonen 31 seconds into the third period appeared to change the momentum of the game.
The Penguins' Zbynek Michalek took a slashing penalty with 30 seconds left in the second, and the Flyers took advantage when Wayne Simmonds screened Fleury, keeping him from seeing Timonen's blast from the center of the blue line.
"We didn't play well in the second period," Timonen said. "We were standing still, we didn't skate, turned the puck over. … We talked after the second period, we've got a power play coming up, hopefully we can score and get on a role and that's what happened."
"Them scoring the goal right off the bat … I think that spurred them on in the third period and they got some good shifts after that," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "It became more of a 50/50 game."
Moments later, Hartnell tied it. Giroux, in his personal battle with Malkin in the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy race, found Hartnell just to the left of the Pittsburgh net with a nifty slap pass. Before Fleury could come out of his crouch, Hartnell lifted the puck over the netminder's left shoulder at 4:47 to tie the game.
Giroux's two-point game pulled him into a tie with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for second in the scoring race with 84 points, four behind Malkin.
While scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals, Hartnell continued to be a highly skilled irritant, getting in the face of a number of Penguins players, including a game-long battle with Pittsburgh defenseman Letang. He drew a double-minor for roughing on Letang in the second period -- while taking a roughing minor himself -- and in the third, while trying again to get at Letang, he was sent off for slashing and roughing, while taking James Neal and Chris Kunitz -- two-thirds of the Pens' top line -- to the box with him.
"That's the way he plays," Timonen said. "That's his game. When he plays like that, he's in the game. Obviously we get the energy from him, the way he plays and obviously he's been scoring some big goals for us the whole season. He's one of those guys that as a defenseman it's hard to play against him. He's always there yapping and punching … I'm really happy he's on our team."
Coach Peter Laviolette credited Hartnell's all-round play -- offensively and physically -- for giving his team the momentum it needed.
"He got really physical there and we needed to do that," he said. "That push was needed. We were really sleepy in the second period. We needed to get agitated, active in the game (and) I think physically it helped turned around the momentum. Scotty was not only a real good physical presence but offensively."
Hartnell also led the team with five hits and played 17:07, on top of the 23:23 he played Saturday against Boston.
"It's physical, it's emotional, and right now I'm just gassed," he said. "We're playing a lot of games in a lot of days. Took every ounce of energy from all 20 guys in here. You get an emotional game like that, we can't let it fall the next game next week. We have to keep on working hard."
Hard work is something that was lacking for the Flyers in the first two periods as Pittsburgh dominated them.
"I think the first half of the game, the first 30 minutes, was the type of game we liked," said Bylsma.
Adams opened the scoring at 13:21 of the first period when he re-directed a Letang point shot down and off the leg of Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning, and then it trickled into the net as Bryzgalov was committed to the original path of the shot.
While the Penguins were bombarding the Flyers in the second period, only an MVP-caliber play Malkin was able to beat Bryzgalov. Letang got the puck to Malkin in the left corner in the Philadelphia end. Malkin spun away from Giroux and carried the puck to the net. He fanned on his first attempt, but as he crossed in front of the goal, he slid his second chance under Bryzgalov with 53.0 seconds left in the period.
That was the last puck to get past Bryzgalov, who improved to 10-2-1 with a 1.67 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in 13 games since his last start against the Penguins, which saw him get pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on 13 shots.
"We were down 2-0 in the game, but there were countless big saves after that to keep it from going to 3-0 or 3-1," Laviolette said. "Again, everyone showed a lot of resiliency, especially Bryz. You need to get that from your goalie. He gave us a lot of big saves we needed him to make to give us opportunity to get back in the third."
While it hurts seeing their long win streak end -- as well as a chance to tie the Rangers at 95 points -- the Penguins are able to look at the positives of a three-game trip that saw them earn five of a possible six points against divisional opponents, while working Sidney Crosby and Letang back into the lineup.
"We knew coming in that we had a chance (at first place) there," said Crosby, who had three shots on net and won 11 of 21 faceoffs in 17:37 of action. "I think we still did a lot of good things. We'll look back in the third period there. Obviously would have liked to change things, but for the most part we did some really good things."
Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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